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Adobe InDesign and Transparent Images on Color Backgrounds

Mar 30, 2009 • general

When you insert a transparent image over a color background in Adobe InDesign, the transparent image may look good when you generate the PDF, but when you actually print the image from a laser printer, the transparent image has a faint background where the image should otherwise be transparent.

I spent a long time trying to figure out the solution to this problem. It seemed to be a new, unheard of issue by everyone I asked. But after a post to an InDesign forum, I found the answer.

InDesign Secrets calls it "Yucky Discolored Box Syndrome." Here's their solution:

Create a Transparency Flattener Preset that completely rasterizes everything:

  1. Edit > Transparency Flattener Presets, click on "High" as a starting point, and then click "New."
  2. In the ensuing dialog box, yank the raster/vector slider all the way to the left. Set the linework resolution to the printer's res (say, 600), and set the gradient/mesh resolution to, oh, 150. (I think you'll find shadow appearance satisfactory at 150. If not, go to 300.) Save as a new Flattener Preset.

  3. File > Print, and under Output, choose Composite CMYK, and CHECK the "Simulate Overprint" checkbox. Under Advanced, select your all-raster flattener.

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About Tom Johnson

Tom Johnson

I'm a technical writer based in the California San Francisco Bay area. Topics I write about on this blog include the following technical communication topics: Swagger, agile, trends, learning, plain language, quick reference guides, tech comm careers, and certificate programs. I'm interested in information design, API documentation, visual communication, information architecture and findability, and more. If you're a professional or aspiring technical writer, be sure to subscribe to email updates using the form above. You can learn more about me here. You can also contact me with questions.